Wastewater Management

Challenges of Keeping Water Clean

With a year-round population of about 1000 residents, Block Island's population in the summer swells to over 20,000 persons. The Island's water resources consist of a designated sole source aquifer, coastal embayments, drinking water reservoirs, freshwater wetlands and ponds which are all vulnerable to contamination. The Island is a popular eco-tourism destination, and the strength of the local economy depends on the health of the water resources and the unique natural areas. Appropriate on-site wastewater treatment is essential to prevent pathogens and nutrients from harming the potable water supply and to maintain recreational and commercial fishing, shell fishing, boating, and swimming.

Rules for Septic Systems

In January 2008, the Department of Environmental Management promulgated new Rules for septic systems. Under the new Rules, the term "individual sewage disposal system" (ISDS) was replaced with the term "on-site wastewater treatment system" (OWTS) to better emphasize the importance of treatment in system function and environmental protection.

Proper maintenance and care of your septic system is of utmost importance to ensure proper function. The filter on conventional systems should be cleaned once per year either by homeowner or registered service provider and inspected by the wastewater management inspector (a town employee) or their designee every three years per town zoning ordinance § 506.  All systems with pumps and/ or electrical components (for example T2 and alternative OWTSs) are mandated to have a written maintenance contract for those components regardless of age and be inspected by a Rhode Island registered service provider per town zoning ordinance § 506.

Wastewater Ordinance

The Town of New Shoreham amended its Wastewater Ordinance on March 5, 2012. The adopted ordinance is available on the Town's Clerkbase page.

Treatment Level Zones

The Treatment Zones document located below depicts parcel boundaries overlaying the Resource Protection Areas (including Great Salt Pond and Water Supply watersheds) and the treatment level zones. These zones are delineated based upon a combination of factors, including soil type and resource protection area.